The word motherhood has been used for centuries without thorough examination of what it encompasses. Literature exhibits the changing reality and needs of mothering irrespective of the outcome: imposed motherhood, and institutionalized mothers. Motherhood has been bifurcated in meaning as “the potential relationship of any woman to her powers of reproduction and to children; and the institution, which aims at ensuring that that potential-- and all women--shall remain under male control” (Rich 13). A woman’s biological capacity to bear and nurture a child has been a significant factor in the existence of human life. Another facet of this is the development of the child’s identity while growing up close to the mother. On the one hand, a son gives up or is given up by his mother at a certain age; daughters, on the contrary, have no reason to be given up, and thus the mother-daughter bond is cultivated to be permanent. The paper explores Well-Behaved Indian Women (2020), the debut novel of Saumya Dave, to discover this relationship in three generations of women. The authors examine how motherhood is practiced in the ways a woman is brought up under a certain set of beliefs by her mother, and how she transfers the same set of beliefs to her own daughter. This shift edges towards an inflicted identity that is not one’s own. The daughters and mothers in the novel suffer separation resulting from their conflicted identities and go on journeys of self-analysis to resolve these conflicts. We seek to examine their struggle by highlighting select concepts in motherhood studies.

Author Biography

Shivalika Agarwal is a doctoral fellow in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee. Her research interests include Indian motherhood studies, women’s studies, psychoanalysis, feminine psychology, identity development, and female studies. She presented this paper at the two-day national webinar on “Celebrating Unheard Voices of Charismatic Women in Indian Writing in English,” (December 3-4, 2021). Email id: agarwal.shivalika200@gmail.com

Dr. Nagendra Kumar is a Professor of English in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Roorkee, Uttarakhand, India. He specializes in English Language, Literature, and Communication Studies. Besides publishing a widely reviewed book on Bharati Mukherjee: The Fiction of Bharati Mukherjee: A Cultural Perspective (Atlantic, 2001), he has published in SCI, Scopus, and UGC-indexed journals and has presented papers at various national and international conferences. Email id: nagendra.kumar@hs.iitr.ac.in